The Local Digital Collaboration Unit (LDCU) has identified five core objectives, including a strong emphasis on strengthening cyber security, for its future work with local authorities in England.
It has also said the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), within which it operates, is planning to increase the size of both the local digital and cyber teams that work with local authorities.
LDCU has announced the new approach in a blogpost responding to the provision of £85 million to support its work in last autumn’s Spending Review.
It highlighted the continuation of cyber threats to local government saying it is urgent to move towards using systems that are secure by design and that cyber and digital are “two sides of the same coin”.
In response, the cyber and Local Digital teams in DLUHC will work more closely with councils on the first two objectives: to assess and manage cyber risks; and to substantially reduce the disruption to services caused by cyber attacks.
This will involve efforts to develop replicable solutions for building resilience to cyber threats, and a clearer set of best practice standards based on the recently published Government Cyber Security Strategy.
The LDCU will also work with councils to develop tried and tested routes for improving the usability, accessibility and security of digital services, and to ensure they have the skills, knowledge and tools needed to design and deliver them.
Finally, it wants to ensure that councils have better access to business systems that follow the standards outlined in the Technology Code of Practice, which include being accessible, user-centred and ‘cloud first’.
The blog states: “In the Local Digital Declaration we outline our commitment to working with councils as equal partners to create the tools and conditions for reform—but how will this work in practice to drive change within local government?
“The programme will give councils the opportunity to work more closely with us to address specific problems, and to make sure they have the tools, funding and capability to deliver better services.
“We hope it will give councils greater choice, help to improve standards, and make it easier to move away from legacy systems and embrace modern alternatives.”
The unit is now planning to run a series of regional roadshows for councils to share their thinking on what needs to be done.
Last year DLUHC – then the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – announced changes in the way the Local Digital Fund would operate with a move away from a round based approach to a continuous funding model, and a plan to build a team to support councils’ cyber security efforts.